Even if you haven’t given birth but especially if you have you’re going to want to add Pelvic Floor Therapy to your daily fitness routine. Kegels are underused to treat and prevent urinary incontinence, especially during pregnancy and the postpartum period. This non-invasive muscle exercise should be taught and the use of Kegels encouraged by providers.
Knowledge and use of Kegels is examined in a current study Engagement with Kegels: A Longitudinal, Prospective, Multisite Study a randomized control trial of 855 women, 53% experienced UI during pregnancy.2 A systematic review of 33 studies representing 23,433 women reported that 33% experienced UI postpartum.10 The literature reports that UI persists up to 12 years after childbirth for women who experienced UI at 3 months postbirth11 and that SUI is more common at 3.5 years postbirth than at 8 weeks.12 Learning about women’s experiences and knowledge regarding UI and Kegel exercises may influence how health care professionals educate pregnant and postpartum women and ultimately diminish the impact that UI has on women’s experiences of comfort and everyday life.
Kegel exercises appear to be beneficial in reducing severity and/or presence of UI. Kegels are considered the firstline treatment for UI. Pelvic floor muscle therapy or pelvic floor muscle exercises are terms that can be used interchangeably with Kegel exercises. A daily regimen of 30 Kegels one to three times daily for a minimum of 3 months is recommended to treat UI.
“The current study does demonstrate the opportunity for changes in practice that improve Kegel education and performance. Approaches that emphasize the role of providers in preventing, identifying, and treating urinary incontinence (UI) may improve rates of Kegel exercise, decrease rates of UI, and improve quality of life (physical and emotional) for women,” states Susan Yount, PhD, Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, and coauthors.
The study examined how women with UI learned about Kegels, and their experience with performing Kegels during pregnancy and up to 6 months postpartum. Only 25% of women with persistent UI postpartum sought care.
“UI risk increases during pregnancy, and Kegels are something a woman can do on her own to help prevent UI and as a treatment if UI does occur. Providers should educate pregnant women on the benefits of Kegels and how to perform them correctly,” says Journal of Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA.
So next time you see a friend tell them to drop and give you 30 to help prevent urinary incontinence (UI).